Your dog just took down the neighbor’s fence while chasing a squirrel (and your neighbor isn’t happy). Will your homeowners insurance cover the damage? The short answer is, “it depends.”
Policy coverage and exclusions can vary, and when important factors like pets are involved, the fine print matters.
Want to know more? Here are a few common questions about pets and home insurance.
Does your policy cover damage caused by pets?
Many home insurance policies do not cover damage your pets cause to your own property — like a torn sofa or broken TV. However, liability insurance may cover damage your pet does to other people’s property.
What if your dog bites someone on your property?
Most home liability policies offer coverage for damage a person may suffer on your property, including dog bites (up to a certain limit and provided you’ve disclosed you have a dog). Note that after the first dog bite, you may face additional exclusions.
Are different breeds treated differently?
Some insurance policies may offer limitations on coverage if you have what is considered a high-risk breed. When you share what kind of pet you have we can let you know what to expect.
Are backyard animals covered?
Home insurance policies don’t provide coverage for damage your pets, including backyard animals like goats or chickens, cause to your property. However, liability coverage may still apply (with some limitations).
Will your home insurance pay your pet’s medical bills?
Unfortunately, you’re likely on your own for your pet’s medical bills even if they are hurt during a covered incident (like breaking through your neighbor’s fence).
Have questions about your coverage? Reach out anytime.
If a covered loss results in covered property having to be rebuilt, repaired, or demolished in accordance with the enforcement of any building code, law, or ordinance, this coverage responds.
Coverage is limited to 10% of the coverage A amount (10% of the building alterations amount in form HO-00 04), and is an additional amount of insurance.
The forms state that the coverage may also be used for increased costs to remove debris in accordance with the enforcement of any code or law regulating such removal.
The forms exclude any costs or expense resulting from any law or ordinance that requires testing for, monitoring for, or clean-up of any pollutants. So, for example, if a covered fire destroys an older home whose furnace has asbestos-wrapped pipes, the coverage will not respond to clean up of that particular item. Also, any loss in value resulting from the enforcement of any code, law or ordinance is excluded.
For example, if a building code states that those charming wooden shakes on a roof must be replaced with asphalt shingles because of fire regulations, with the result that the scenic log house loses $5,000 in value, the coverage will not respond.
Particularly in regards to an older home, the amount of ordinance or law coverage may be insufficient. For example, a home built in 1920, with a replacement cost of $200,000, partially burns.
The systems were last updated in 1970. Now, however, the aluminum wiring must be replaced with Romex, and all remaining lead pipes with PVC, at a cost of $10,000.
Further, because the house is over 50% damaged, it must be demolished at a cost of $12,000. The 10% allotted by the policy is now used up.
While a careful review of local building codes is not feasible, the safest practice is to increase the coverage if there is any doubt.
Home Insurance Coverage is provided — subject to a $1,000 limit — for debris removal of fallen trees.
The ISO form limits coverage to the insured’s trees felled by windstorm or hail or the weight of ice, snow, or sleet, or to a neighbor’s trees that are felled by a coverage C peril.
However, before there is any coverage under this provision, the tree must damage a covered structure or block a driveway which prevents a motor vehicle registered for use on public roads from entering or leaving the residence premises.
Additionally, the fallen tree could block a ramp or other access device used to assist a handicapped person from entering or leaving the dwelling.
The limit is the most that will be paid for any one loss, subject to a limit of $500 for removal of any one tree.
A question raised by the additional coverage for removal of trees is whether the limit applies to the cost of removing the part of the tree that rests on the damaged structure, or whether that cost is considered to be part of the cost of repairing the structure.
For example, if a tree is felled by windstorm and falls onto the dwelling, causing extensive damage, no repairs can begin until the parts of the tree resting on the building are cut away, so it would seem logical to categorize such costs as repair costs. However, the policy language, if strictly interpreted, would include those costs within the $1,000 limit.
The policy provides that the insurer “will also pay [the] reasonable expense, up to $1,000, for the removal from the -‘residence premises’ of” trees felled by the described perils. “Residence premises” is defined in the policy as “the one- to four-family dwelling, other structures, and grounds…where [the insured] reside[s].”
Thus, the $1,000 limit appears to apply to the removal from the dwelling and other structures as well as to removal from the grounds.
However, under this arrangement, the cost of removing the tree from the structure should still be considered part of the repair cost. If the insurance coverage for repairs is insufficient, the “additional coverage” (coverage in addition to that otherwise provided for in the policy) may be called upon.
Your front steps recently started to crumble a little bit — what would happen if your neighbor slipped and hurt their wrist while bringing you some mail?
When things go wrong, many people are happy to resolve problems privately or forgive the responsible party. But sometimes an injury or a property loss is so expensive that outside help is the only way to pay for the damage.
Here’s what to know about how to protect yourself from potentially costly accidents.
What does personal liability insurance cover?
If someone is accidentally injured in your home or on your property, personal liability insurance can help cover their medical bills and protect you if you’re sued.
If you or someone else covered by your policy accidentally damages someone else’s property, personal liability insurance can pay for the loss.
What doesn’t personal liability insurance cover?
Personal liability doesn’t cover your own damage to your own property and covered family members, though other insurance often does.
If your spouse falls off a ladder, your health insurance will provide coverage. If you accidentally start a fire and cause damage in your kitchen, your homeowners or renters insurance will kick in. If you injure someone while driving, you’ll file an auto insurance claim. And you’ll need a separate policy for business activities.
How do I get personal liability coverage?
If you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, you already have personal liability coverage. The question is whether you have enough.
Insurance protects us against losses we can’t afford to pay for without help. Do you know how much personal liability insurance you have and whether it’s enough?
Reach out today and we’ll figure it out together.
6 Helpful Home Features to Look Forward To
If you could redesign your home today, what would it look like?
Experiencing a pandemic has changed how many of us think about our living spaces. What used to make sense may now seem impractical, and lots of homeowners are wishing for different features and layouts altogether.
How will home design change in the future? Here are a few comfort-focused innovations we might start to see.
Cleanliness and Safety
Looking to the future, you can likely expect to see more voice- and motion-activated technology and stronger barriers between the outside and inside world.
Have you felt overwhelmed by clutter lately? Future homes will likely adapt to a more streamlined and storage-friendly mindset.
Need some peace and quiet? Want to accommodate multiple roommates or your multigenerational family with ease? Designers and architects can help.
Do you have questions about your home insurance coverage? Need help with anything? Reach out today.
5 Simple Steps to a Safer Home
Keeping your family safe and your home in good condition are top priorities for any homeowner.
What’s one way to help achieve these goals?
You can conduct a home safety audit each year.
This simply means inspecting a few things and reviewing emergency plans with everyone in your household. These easy safety checks can make all the difference. Here’s where to start.
Locate and test smoke alarms.
Do you have enough smoke alarms, and are they working?
You want one on each floor, including one inside and outside each sleeping area. Test each alarm, replace expired batteries and replace alarms older than 10 years.
Practice getting out and meeting up.
It’s important to have a well-understood evacuation plan in case of a fire or other emergency. Go over the details (like how to exit safely and how to gather up your pets) and practice them together. Settle on a meeting place outside.
Check fire extinguishers.
Do you have one in the garage and one in the kitchen?
Make sure the dial shows the extinguisher is still pressurized. Review the instructions for using it (and know when to use it and when to evacuate).
Look for kitchen hazards. Has grease built up around the stove or on your range hood filter?
t could start a cooking fire. Also, make sure cleaning products are locked away from young children and pets.
Check carbon monoxide detectors.
Make sure they’re still working and have fresh backup batteries. Some are integrated with smoke alarms, but plug-in ones at knee level may provide better detection.
Do you have questions about keeping your home safe or about your coverage?
Reach out anytime for assistance.
Have you ever looked over a vehicle repair estimate and felt a sinking feeling in your stomach?
Maybe you have reason to believe that something isn’t right, but due to a lack of knowledge, there’s not much you can do about it.
Is it possible to avoid this moment altogether?
There are lots of trustworthy mechanics out there, so you just have to find one. Here are a few tips for connecting with someone reliable.
Ask for Recommendations
While online reviews can be helpful to your decision-making process, they shouldn’t be the only factor. Ask friends, family, co-workers and neighbors if they’re happy with their current mechanic.
Check for Certifications
Many reputable mechanics have been certified by particular vehicle manufacturers or the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Ask the shop if they have any certified mechanics on staff and check the website or waiting area for any other licenses or certifications.
Be an Active Participant
Show up informed about the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle as well as any major repairs you’ve already completed. This will help your mechanic be the best possible partner to you. It will also alert you to any red flags, such as a recommendation for a repair that you just had done.
You also want a mechanic who is willing to answer your questions and explain why a repair is needed. The best technicians can also tell you when the repair isn’t urgent but should be completed within a specific timeframe.
Have questions about your insurance coverage? Reach out anytime.